Fade the Public Betting Trends Week 3

Taking a second look at the more popular betting trends.

As sports gambling becomes more mainstream, more and more people are looking for insight on what games to bet on and what lines to take. One approach is to look at the ‘popular’ lines, where people follow the crowd and bet on the games that everyone else is betting. This ‘Go with the Flow’ mentality can provide a sense of security because if a lot of other people are doing it, there must be something there.

But sometimes the public can have it wrong. Sometimes the flow of the water actually leads to a waterfall. Sometimes, it’s better to go against the flow – or maybe even avoid the flow completely. In this series, we’ll look at some of those situations, and give you our thoughts behind why it might be good to fade the public trend, and look for other opportunities.

Things have settled down a bit in the NFL and we have a better understanding of who teams are and what they can do. The Vegas lines are not moving as much and the public money is flowing to the team that will ‘most likely’ win. Still, we do have some opportunities to explore this week.

CHICAGO BEARS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

Public Trend – 64% of the public bets favor Chicago

The Cardinals have scored just six points total in the first two games. Last week against the Rams, they didn’t make it across the 50 yard line until the second to last play of the game. The Cardinals have just 350 total offensive yards in that span as well. The Chicago defense is playing lights out, and they have 10 sacks (#1 in the NFL) in the first two games. They are number eight in the league in total yards allowed (just 323 yards / game), have forced five fumbles and have two defensive touchdowns in two weeks. The Cardinals could be facing another shutout this week.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

Chicago’s offense has struggled, and they are only posting 282 yards per game (28th in the NFL). They’re playing on the road after a tough Monday night game and have shown streaks where their offense disappears. Despite building big leads against Green Bay and Seattle, they let down in the second half and nearly lost both games. Despite starting much of last season, Mitchell Trubisky has just nine touchdown passes in 14 games, and he looks less polished than Baker Mayfield did last night for Cleveland. The Cardinals still have a lot of talent in guys like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. They are not as bad as their current offensive production might indicate, and they are sure to get some points in the 4th quarter, even if Chicago has the lead.

The Vegas line continues to move in Arizona’s favor, but the over/under stays the same. With just 38 total points expected, Vegas predicts that this game is going to be low scoring, and 17 points could be enough to win this one. The Cardinals are trying to show some signs of life, and any scoring from them in this game could go very badly for Chicago.

NEW ENGLAD AT DETROIT LIONS

Public Trend – 75% of the public bets favor New England

New England hasn’t lost two games in a row since 2015 and the Patriots are going to come into this game looking to avenge the thumping they took last week in Jacksonville. Although Julian Edelman still remains on the sidelines, the Patriots still have Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Rob Gronkowski. The Lions are 0-2 and have given up a league-worst 78 points to their opponents in those games as well. Their offense continues to struggle and their running game is nonexistent. Their star cornerback Darius Slay has been in concussion protocol and has not practiced all week.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

The Patriots are playing back to back road games and the Jaguars beat them up pretty well last week. They traded for Josh Gordon earlier this week but his presence has always been a distraction in Cleveland and the rush to add him into the offense could be more harm than help this week. The Lions are back home, looking to foget their disastrous 3rd quarter against the Jets in week 1 and will play tough. Despite giving up a ton of points over the first two weeks, the Lions have played well for big chunks of their games. Even when they were down 27-13 on the road in San Francisco, they battled back and covered the spread.

The line has remained the same in this one but the over-under has moved up to 53.5. If you take away the 3rd quarter of that Monday night game against the Jets, the Lions have played their opponents pretty evenly, and a high scoring game plus the spread could give them a chance here.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Public Trend – 61% of the public bets favor Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay has a swagger this season and Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven he can still play in the NFL. With 819 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns, he’s the hottest quarterback in the NFL not named Patrick Mahomes. Unlike the Tampa teams of previous years, the passing game includes other players besides Mike Evans. DeSean Jackson has returned to life and youngsters Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard have made big contributions so far. The Steelers are struggling without Le'Veon Bell. One-handed catches aside, James Conner is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and there is very little depth behind him. Antonio Brown has been very vocal about his disappointment with the team so far and it’s been a big distraction in the media this week. The Steelers feel like a team that is about to come apart.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

The Steelers know that teams that start 0-2-1 don’t make the playoffs and after a 13-3 season last year, that’s the last thing they want to do. Despite giving up 63 points in two games, their point differential is just -5. Ben Roethlisberger has 787 passing yards over those two games and while Conner’s rushing stats aren’t great, he has contributed over 100 yards receiving. JuJu Smith-Schuster has quietly emerged as a legitimate receiving threat and he leads the team with 18 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown. After building a 27-7 lead on Philadelphia last week to start the 3rd quarter, Tampa Bay struggled for much of the second half. As a team they have just over 150 yards rushing for the first two weeks and are averaging a league-worst 2.7 yards per carry. Their passing defense is giving up 376 yards per game (31st in the league), have just four sacks and no interceptions.

The Steelers are actually the favorite in this game, but the line is creeping toward zero as the public piles on to the red-hot Buccaneers who are 2-0 ATS. The over/under has moved up to almost 54 and this looks to be a prime-time shoot-out on Monday night where the Steelers always seem to fire up. Two weeks ago, most people would have expected the Steelers to be 2-0 and Tampa to be 0-1-1 for this game. At some point you expect both teams to move back in that direction.

* graphics and numbers are from covers.com.